Writing about mental health from a feminist counselling perspective
One of my hopes as we go forward into 2022 is that we can all find more peace with food and our bodies. I know fat bias and stigma make this incredibly challenging, but there are everyday things we can do to let go of shame-fueled beliefs around our bodies and embrace body acceptance. Some of this involves saying goodbye to things that make us feel worse about it (i.e., curating our social media feeds) and some of it involves surrounding ourselves with what supports us to feel better.
If you’re aiming to have a more compassionate relationship with food and your body, here are some resources that may support you in journey:
1) Maintenance Phase is an excellent podcast hosted by journalist Michael Hobbes and activist Aubrey Gordon. They debunk popular nutrition advice, health fads, and wellness scams. Aubrey also has a book out, What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, where she explores fat activism as a way of fighting for social justice.
2) The F*ck It Diet is a book by Caroline Dooner where she explains how dieting makes us more fixated on food, and lays out a pathway to move away from the restrict/purge cycle. If you’ve worked with me before, you know one of my life mottos is “listen to your body”. This includes learning to listen to our hunger and fullness cues, trusting in our body’s wisdom, and getting out of the pattern of constant restriction.
3) For those who are hoping for a more personalized approach, you might appreciate reaching out to a HAES dietician like Selene Yan of Embodied RD. I recently connected with her and love the somatic wisdom she brings to her work with clients – it’s very much in alignment with the type of work I do and I think many of you will appreciate it too.
4) In this blog post, I share a series of strategies you might turn to when you feel shame about food, as well as some reminders of the things that never help. The most powerful way of dealing with shame in the long-term is by building up our resilience to it. If that’s something you often struggle with, I have an online course called Shame Resilience Skills where I share 6 concrete tools you can use everyday to complement healing.
More resources to support you
I initially sent out this brief list on my newsletter, and in response I received some extra resources that some folks consider fundamental reading, especially around the origins of anti-fat beliefs and racism.
5) In Fearing the Black Body, sociologist Dr. Sabrina Strings explores the origins of fatphobia and the cult of thinness through history as linked to Western white supremacy.
6) Belly of the Beast by Da’Shaun Harrison is another book that takes a contemporary look at the intersections of race, police violence, gender identity, fatness, and health, specifically in the USA.
7) When talking about body acceptance, we can’t forget to mention the Health at Every Size (HAES) philosophy, supported by ASDAH (Association for Size Diversity and Health). The HAES pledge has three components: 1. Respect (celebrates body diversity; honors differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, gender, dis/ability, sexual orientation, religion, class, and other human attributes); 2. Critical Awareness (challenges scientific and cultural assumptions; values body knowledge and people’s lived experiences); 3. Compassionate Self-care (finding the joy in moving one’s body and being physically active; eating in a flexible and attuned manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite, while respecting the social conditions that frame eating options.) Individuals can take the pledge to show their commitment, and be signed on to their database so people looking for their services can find them.
8) Megan Jayne Crabbe has what looks like a great newsletter on mental health, social media, bodies, relationships, feminism and healing. I've been following her IG account for years now and enjoy her compassionate and thoughtful approach to body acceptance.
9) In the Food Psych podcast, Christy Harrison brings a different guest every week to talk about their relationship with food, the harm of diet culture, experiences of recovery, fat acceptance, and more. Christy also has a book out on the topic, Anti-Diet.
10) Roxane Gay’s book Hunger: A memoir of (my) body is an intimate look into the author’s relationship to food, weight, and her body in connection with her experience as a survivor of sexual trauma, but it also explores learning to take care of yourself.
Were you familiar with any of these resources? What did you think of them? Do you have any other favourites? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!
*This post was edited on March 15, 2022.
Annina Schmid (M.A.) is a feminist counsellor who helps women recover from binge drinking and disordered eating, as well as families with young adults who "failed to launch". Annina employs Solution Focused Dialogue to support and empower her clients in making lasting life changes. She works from a strengths-based harm reduction approach. Annina works with all genders and people on the LGBTTIQQ+ spectrum.
As a counsellor who works mostly with women who struggle with disordered eating and binge drinking, I have started running monthly online support groups at the beginning of the year. Here are the four most important things I have learned from my participants:
Nicole Perry is a Registered Psychologist and writer with a private practice in Edmonton. Her approach is collaborative and feminist at its heart. She specializes in healing trauma, building shame resilience, and setting boundaries.
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This space will provide information, stories, and answers to big questions about some of my favorite topics - boundaries, burnout, trauma, self compassion, and shame resilience - all from a feminist counselling perspective. It's also a space I'm exploring and refining new ideas.
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